Ex Ford CEO Mark Fields failed to secure a partnership with Google to work on autonomous cars – a turn of events that may have led to his eventual demise at the automaker.
According to CNBC, Google had talked seriously with Ford about jointly developing autonomous vehicles, something the Silicon Valley giant and Fiat Chrysler are doing right now. Google was apprehensive to enter the partnership, however, as it didn’t like Field’s desire to bring the resulting joint venture to Wall Street.
As the possibility of a Ford-Google partnership dwindled, top Ford brass developed an appreciation for then-board member Jim Hackett’s contacts in Silicon Valley, which were established during his tenure as CEO of Steelcase and while serving as the director of athletics at the University of Michigan. He was named as the head of Ford’s Smart Mobility program before becoming CEO this year.
FCA is currently in a partnership with Google’s self-driving car project Waymo. The tech company is using Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid minivan to test its self-driving hardware and software, likely because it sees the Pacifica Hybrid as a relatively affordable and efficient way to transport multiple people. Its size and shape also make it ideal for housing and mounting the various hardware and electronics.
FCA recently expanded the Waymo partnership, with Waymo ordering an additional 500 vans on top of the 100 it took delivery of late last year.